Art Creative Ltd

Labour pledge to end ‘sweetheart’ tax rates for big business

Martin Castilla            No comments            Feb, 15

Thousands of companies would be forced to publish their tax returns for the first time under a Labour plan to end “sweetheart deals” for big business.

The proposal, which will be announced today, would affect companies with more than 250 employees. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the move would close down “loopholes and scams” that have contributed to a tax gap of £36 billion.

Almost £10 billion of the gap between expected taxes and those paid has been attributed to large companies.

The plan is the latest in a flurry of Labour pledges, including universal free school meals for primary school pupils, a £10 minimum wage and a clampdown on late payments by business. It follows criticism that Jeremy Corbyn’s team had failed to set out sufficient policies as leader. The party, trailing in the polls, faces local elections next month.

Companies including Google, Goldman Sachs and Vodafone have come under the spotlight over tax, amid allegations that they received special deals from HM Revenue and Customs.

Under Labour’s plan the tax returns of large companies would have to be deposited at Companies House with their annual accounts. The rules would hit about 7,000 companies.

“Tax avoidance is a scourge on society that company secrecy laws help facilitate and the Tories have done nothing to tackle,” Mr McDonnell said.

A Labour plan to stop banks closing high-street branches has been questioned by the industry. One source said the idea set the tone for a “command and control style” of government.